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To wonder if I am getting a worse service because I'm legal aid ?

(58 Posts)
SkelleyBones Wed 20-Jul-11 15:09:55

I keep emailing my solicitor asking her advice and opinion and basically she ignores me, only getting in touch when the other side send through some correspondence.
Is it wrong to be asking for her guidance as to what to do, what is the best action for my case ? I understand the meter is ticking but surely if she is not doing what I want her to do then more money will be wasted by her barking up the wrong tree ?

Tanif Wed 20-Jul-11 15:21:53


I work as a lawyer in a firm that has a legal aid contract. My private and legal aid clients get EXACTLY the same level of care from me because, at the end of the day, I get paid either way. She probably isn't responding because she has nothing to tell you. Sorry, but from an insider's point of view we see it as pestering and will ignore it unless it's urgent/requires attention.

Your case me be subject to an audit and if she has made dozens of calls/letters/emails that aren't strictly necessary, it could be her head that ends up on the chopping block over it.

Just let her get on with her job. I know it's frustrating but she wants your case to be resolved in your interests... it looks good for her figures smile

SkelleyBones Wed 20-Jul-11 15:25:28

She may have nothing to tell me but surely she should be responding to information that I am giving to her ?
I haven't called because I don't want to pester but there must be certain directions she can take one being better than the other, that's all I want to know.

SkelleyBones Wed 20-Jul-11 15:27:28

But it's good to know legal aid makes no difference and i'd be ignore know matter what :-)

sparkle1977 Wed 20-Jul-11 15:43:26

I work in the legal field too and quite agree with Tanif. All clients get the same treatment as the lawyer dealing gets paid either way.

You do sound quite high maintenance tho and those sort of clients do get short shrift at times as there are only so many working hours in the day and believe it or not you are not the ONLY client. Sorry to be blunt.

She will reply to what she sees as urgent and necessary. Try not to fret.

MorticiaAddams Wed 20-Jul-11 15:43:34

YABU. I have worked in solicitors' offices and have never seen any difference in the way legal aid and private paying clients are treated.

At the end of your case your solicitor has to present a bill to the other side for payment and if challenged would have to justify all those emails which of course she couldn't and wouldn't get paid for her time.

The other thing you need to take into consideration is that your solicitor will have many clients who are constantly e-mailing her and she would never get any "real" work done is she spent all her time acknowledging e-mails. Think about it another way, if it were a few years ago and everything was done by post, would you expect your solicitor to write to you acknowledging everything you sent to her?

Tanif Wed 20-Jul-11 15:44:55

If you send her anything relevant/helpful, I'm sure she's storing it on file and giving it consideration, just try not to expect a response to the tiniest minute issues in your case. It'll be fine smile

SkelleyBones Wed 20-Jul-11 15:45:40

Ok fair enough but if I am saying via email, have we got an expert witness or do you need me to pay for it, would you expect a response or do I assume that silence means no thank you save your pennies we've got that covered. I don't like to assume anything you see.

moonferret Wed 20-Jul-11 15:48:40

Not sure about Legal Aid. But if you were a "no win, no fee" client, I would bet you'd receive a far worse service than fee paying clients. I speak from my own experience and other family members'. Law firms seem to only take on "no win no fee" as they can't afford not to, but leave it on the shelf until paid work dries up! Of course they've already made you sign a contract to the effect that if you take the case elsewhere, you have to pay them a fortune!
The legal profession is this country can be quite annoying!

MrSpoc Wed 20-Jul-11 15:51:08

Bollocks to everyone saying Op is a pain in the arse. You are providing a paid for service. Op should expect at least an knowledgment to her e-mails even if it states, received no knew info yet. ill keep you posted.
I suggest you move Op to somewhere that appreciates your custom.

moonferret Wed 20-Jul-11 15:52:35

I totally agree. The legal profession seems to treat everyone as a pain and nuisance unless they are a fee paying client. If they feel that way, why take the work on in the first place?

Tanif Wed 20-Jul-11 15:52:53

Moonferret, normally 'no win, no fee' firms deal exclusively in just that. The big personal injury firms. The reason they seem to be ignoring clients is probably because, due to blanket advertising, their workload is far greater than they can actually deal with!

RibenaBerry Wed 20-Jul-11 15:54:42

Erm, well I don't work in legal aid, but the thing I picked up on was "I keep emailing". Yes, she should acknowledge emails, but at the same time, think hard about what you've been sending. It is not unknown for clients to (understandably) try to use their lawyer to fill a gap that friends/family are not filling regarding their emotions about the case - wanting to discuss things at length that aren't really relevant, emailing every time they think of a tiny thing (rather than saving it up to the next call/combining them into a longer email), wanting to repeatedly just 'talk' about the case as a way of coping with the stress. That's ok when the client is paying, but I can imagine that on legal aid you'd get quite a telling off as a lawyer if you provided that service.

Tanif Wed 20-Jul-11 15:54:45

MrSpoc, we have to bill for every email sent. Usually a letter on legal aid is just over four minutes worth of work and generates about a fiver. Doesn't sound like much but it can quickly tot up and I'll guarantee you the Legal Services Commission would be quick to leap all over a case with dozens of 'responded to client - no news' billing notes to justify emails. She can try another firm but her treatment will be the same. We can't give away our time for free unfortunately, it all has to be justified.

moonferret Wed 20-Jul-11 15:55:54

No Tanif, I'm talking about High Street solicitors' here. NOT a firm that deals exclusively with "no win, no fee". That should have been totally obvious from my post. I will state again, if you are a "no win, no fee" client, in my experience you will be that you will be regarded by solicitors as far less important than other clients.

moonferret Wed 20-Jul-11 15:57:29

Sorry, my annoyance at Tanif's post meant I messed that up!

Last sentence should read, "I will state again, if you are a "no win, no fee" client, in my experience you will be regarded by solicitors as far less important than other clients.

sausagesandmarmelade Wed 20-Jul-11 15:58:16

Have to say I am pleasantly surprised to hear that legal aid and private clients get the same level of attention to their cases.

I am sure that there are exceptions to the rule though.....

eurochick Wed 20-Jul-11 15:59:00

High Street solicitors (among others) are the firms doing no win, no fee work.

MrSpoc Wed 20-Jul-11 15:59:48

You aint giving your time away free. Its paid for. I understand how legal aid works. There is nothing wrong with the solicitor ringing or e-mailing and explaining to the person that they cannot keep ringing or e-mailing over somthing trivial. Its just basic customer services.
I know of a few good solicitors who worked on legal aid and also did their best to answer any questions. No matter how many calls or e-mails it took.

Tanif Wed 20-Jul-11 16:00:09

Actually moonferret it was not 'totally obvious' from your post. Please do not speak to me like a child as I did not address you like that. If you're a no win no fee client, you probably shouldn't have been doing something stupid in the first place ('I knew I didn't have the correct equipment, but I set up my ladder anyway and then wondered why I was lying in a crumpled heap on the tarmac) which is why I would imagine most claims get ignored.

And actually, no win no fee cases with genuine merit are prized by personal injury solicitors as they get a big fat cut at the end.

Tanif Wed 20-Jul-11 16:00:47

Sorry moonferret, x post. I apologise for snapping!

moonferret Wed 20-Jul-11 16:03:21

If you're a no win no fee client, you probably shouldn't have been doing something stupid in the first place

Complete nonsense of the year award for that!

Lizcat Wed 20-Jul-11 16:04:20

I have to say that in a situation where I was a huge fee paying client my solicitor may it quite clear from the start that every e-mail costs money therefore they would not respond unless they actively have something to tell me. Even with this policy my bill for e-mails sent was still over £500. Even as someone who ended up paying thousands in legal fees they would only contact me when they wanted a meeting, me to sign something or for me to pay a bill.

MrSpoc Wed 20-Jul-11 16:04:23

the post from RibinaBerry proves that you do not get the same level of service if you are on legal aid compaired to a fee paying client.
* That's ok when the client is paying, but I can imagine that on legal aid you'd get quite a telling off as a lawyer if you provided that service*

Tchootnika Wed 20-Jul-11 16:05:34

SkelleyBones - your solicitor will have a good (professional's!) idea of how to deal with evidence, routes to take, etc. and may or not not respond to your contact.
Her job is to work in your best legal interests. This doesn't mean writing thank yous, etc.
tbh, it can be irritating when clients pepper legal representatives with what they think is useful information, pressing questions, etc.
You might or might not get responses from another solicitor (tbh, I think you'd be unlikely to, though). It's not her job to provide them. Don't take this personally or imagine that it reflects or affects her competence as a lawyer.

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